ABOUT TOWN: Located along the banks of the Wishcana River, Surprise Valley is the central community for the Surprise Valley Region. It is surrounded by the Chase Mountains and the Surprise Valley Highway runs through the town. Drivers can choose to drive north to the isolated town of Pello, or continue on through the Peak Summit Pass eastward. The town of Surprise Valley is just west of the Chane County line and because of that, is located in Dennison County. It is one of only two towns located in the Surprise county that are part of Dennison County. There is no way to reach Surprise Valley or Pello by car without driving through Chane County, as there are no roads connecting it to the rest of the county. The mountains are too steep for any roads to bypass them and connect the towns with the rest of the county. So instead, Surprise Valley has a highway that goes through the valley and Chane County and connects it to the rest of the county via the town of Lesson or Proell.
Surprise Valley is the largest community in the Surprise Valley and serves the small towns of Mitts and Connelly in Chane County as well. Surprise Valley has a small medical center and a local airport, which is the only of both in the whole valley. The airport serves mainly for private plane owners. Helicopter rides are also provided for people wanting to explore the area from above, as well as a medical service helicopter lift if needed. It has the eastern station for the Dennison County Sheriff's Office which services all the roads and Pello in this part of the county. It is made up of four different patrol officers and a volunteer search and rescue squad. Surprise Valley also has a small police department that serves the town of Surprise Valley. A well equipped library and community center keeps citizens happy as well as a handful of churchs, an elementary school, and high school. Buses actually pick high school students up from Pello everyday some 30 miles north on the small backcountry road to the town. If weather or road conditions are too poor, a online student program is in use for students commuting from Pello. There is no college in town, but all local services such as shopping, clothing, and food stores can be found in the town. There is a ranger station 4 miles north of Surprise Valley on the Surprise Valley - Pello Highway. The town also has their own fire department. There is also a train station in town, which heads east and west.
LOCATION: Located along the banks of the Wishcana River, Surprise Valley is the central community for the Surprise Valley Region. It is surrounded by the Chase Mountains and the Surprise Valley Highway runs through the town. Surprise Valley is located in Dennison County and is the farthest east town in the county.
HISTORY: Surprise Valley is the name of the valley that the town of Surprise Valley is located in. Numerous mining communities sprang up during the mid 1800s. Surprise Valley was settled early by many homesteaders heading to the area for profits from mining. A rail terminus was formed in the valley at where Surprise Valley is today. The main line is still in use today for passenger and freight service, but most of the older branch lines used for mining are no longer in use. Around the train station, a few company stores and businesses popped up. Homesteaders began moving to the region to get out of the "crowded" towns of Mitts, Connelly, and Pello. Early farms and ranches began to open up. In 1880 a post office was opened up and a small school house to serve the students. It was in 1900 that the main street finally got full electrical service provided by the Wishcana River. Riverboat services stopped in the town as it grew and citizens simply called it, "Surprise Valley." The town was not incorporated until 1914, many years after the fact that many already recognized it as a town. A large portion of downtown was burned to the ground in 1902 when a fire got out of hand in a saloon. In 1910, about 1,200 people lived in the town of Surprise Valley, which made is slightly bigger then the town of Mitts located south of the town. As mining operations closed in the region, more and more people left the small towns and moved into Surprise Valley, since it was the only town with full services that were able to stay sustained, and thanks to the rail line, it was easily connected to the outside world. In 1920, Chane and Dennison County was split to follow the Wishcana River. Surprise Valley was moved to be a part of Dennison County, which shocked many citizens at the time. In 1962 and 1992, flooding threatened the town, but both times, it was never materialized.
ATTRACTIONS: The Surprise Valley Pioneer Museum is located in old town and is open Wednesday thru Sunday every week except on major holidays. The Wishcana River also provides recreation as well as the hiking trails around the town. Charter planes and helicopters can be purchased by anyone wanting a new perspective on the valley or surrounding mountains.
(The climate for the area is mild and wet. Aerial of the town.)
(Rail played an important roll on the growth of Surprise Valley.)
(The Surprise Valley Highway can be seen on the far right as it splits directions heading into town.)
(The Surprise Valley Medical Center is the only hospital in the Surprise Valley. There are other clinics though.)
(Old town can be seen on Water Tower Road. The newer portion of town is located on the street over named Chestnut Road. Only half of old town is still standing. Old photos show the row downtown buildings once stretching beyond the water tower. Most of it was burned down in 1902.)
(The main road entering town splits to either Water Tower Road or Chestnut Road. The old rail terminus building can be seen on the bottom right of this building. Today is is used as a community center complete with a bowling alley.
(Old downtown Surprise Valley is still used by locals to get local needs met. Historic buildings line the street and is a favorite by history buffs.)